Saturday, March 12, 2011

It's Elementary, Dear Readers - Growing Radishes

            How I miss my old website. I dislike blogs!  Even the name is unattractive.  My blog won’t let me put my photos where I want them.  It won’t let me indent the first sentence of each paragraph.  It won’t let me have tidy margins. If I preview a column I can't get back to fixing it. 
OK, got that off my chest!  Computers give everybody grief except the young who don’t seem to have any trouble at all.  I remember how excited I was the first time I tried writing on the computer at the Torrington Register where my first columns were published.   What a thrill! It was like magic!
Being able to highlight and pick up the third or fourth paragraph when I realized it would make the perfect opener and just drag it right up there. Wow!  Being able to check my spelling, which is outrageously poor, or strike a key and have a whole column zip off to my editor. I was as exited as a caveman who’s been rubbing two sticks together to make his fires and is suddenly offered a Bic.
As I recall, I burned myself a few times before I got the hang of my first computer. I particularly remember the screen blinking “INVALID ENTRY” every time I tried something new.  When it did that for about the 5th time I screamed “Don’t you dare call me an invalid!  I may not being doing well, but I’m not SICK!”  
Old ladies such as yours truly have computer problems every time we turn around, but there’s no question but these machines are a fantastic invention. I just wish I’d been about 15 instead of 50 when I started using one. My mind gets dimmer and dimmer with each year. Even reading “Computers for Dummies” is difficult.

The other day an old friend (his
name will probably come to me
some time late at night) came up
to me at a party and asked if it
was a good time to plant his
radishes. He was obviously
being funny since another
blizzard had just dumped
another foot of snow on
New England, but I totally
missed the joke and started
explaining about radishes
before I caught on.  Yes,
radishes are one of the first
vegtables you can grow, but not quite yet. They are also one of the easiest to grow.
They sprout in only a few days and before you know it, they're ready to be harvested.

All that may be true, but you can still produce cherry bells with the crunch of a sponge, white icicle with the bite of a jalapeno pepper, or some black Spanish that taste like garden dirt.  So I’ve composed the following manual for Radish  Culture.  If followed it should produce good results, and hopefully no frustrations.

                                                RADISHES FOR DUMMIES

The Plant Key  -  The fatter the seed and the deeper it is planted (one and a half inches), the bigger the radish.  If you like small radishes, plant the seeds only an inch deep or even less.  The soil's Ph can be anywhere from 6 to 8.  Use lots of compost or well-rotted manure, but no fresh manure.  As with all root vegetables, a loose sandy soil is best.
The Grow Key – Steady, uninterrupted growth is important, which means soil temperature between 60 and 70 degrees.  How you control this factor can be a problem, but it’s your problem, not mine. The other essential is plenty of water. If necessary this is done with the hose.
The Harvest Key – Don’t try to prolong the harvest of a row of radishes that have been planted all at once.  They will be ready to pick for only a few days and if any are left in the ground longer they will become tough and pithy.  Plant short rows a few weeks apart.
The Enemy Key  - If you have problems with root maggots, dig some hardwood ashes into the soil before planting and spread them on the top as well to repel the flies that lay root maggot eggs.  Few other marauders bother with radishes, although we once had an Irish water spaniel named Bog who adored them, the hotter the better.  Bog would pull one up, hold the leaves between his paws and chomp down on the red root.  Then his eyes would water and he’d foam at the mouth.
The Save Key – This function key is not necessary for Radish PCs. I just mention it because if it's if not used properly on a computer, catastrophe may result, such as losing a completed column two hours before deadline.
The Cook Key – Don’t just use radishes as a snack or appetizer.  Try putting these crisp vegetables in stir-fry dishes, in salads, or turn them into pickles.  Add some radish leaves when you’re cooking spinach.  Although radishes aren’t particularly rich in nutrients, a cup contains about 26% of the vitamins we should consume each day.
If you have trouble following this manual, don’t worry.  You may have sick radishes, but no one will pop up telling you you’re an INVALID!

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